Meet Your Neighbor: Kirk Sharp
By Will Brown
The day after Hurricane Ida touched down on the Gulf Coast, Kirk Sharp started his morning by going to the Long Beach Harbor and doing drone photography with Long Beach City engineers to assess the storm’s damage. Afterwards, he attended two photography sessions for a local realtor and gave advice to an aspiring photographer at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Sharp then got online with some of his friends from John Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering to deal with issues involving aerospace topics, which his background at NASA and the U.S Air Force made him well suited for. Finally, he sent a trailer and a van to his daughter’s house to help with her upcoming move.
For Sharp, no two days are exactly alike, and each day gives him an opportunity to put his many different skills to use. The range of work is what he finds to be the most fulfilling.
“I enjoy the variety, the fact that every day is not the same,” Sharp said. “Some people are suited to that; it’s just not me.”
Kirk Sharp has lived in Long Beach for most of his life, and has served as photographer, electrical engineer, musician, consultant and community volunteer. After graduating from Mississippi State in 1979, he attended the U.S Air Force’s Information Systems Officer Program, graduating in 1984 and then returning to Mississippi State to receive his master’s degree in electrical engineering. He spent the first twelve years of his career as an R&D design engineer for various agencies, which, at the time, made him somewhat of a commodity. He also served in reserve capacity for the Air Force and has over thirty years of military experience, retiring with a colonel rank in 2013.
Sharp worked for NASA Stennis Space Center for fifteen years as an Executive Coordinator to the National Rocket Propulsion Test Alliance and as a liaison to the Department of Defense’s rocket propulsion test community. He has worked with the U.S Geological Survey, Naval Oceanographic Office, National Data Buoy Center, and Naval Research Laboratory as well, and retired with thirty-six years of federal service.
Outside of work, Sharp has served the Long Beach community in a number of different roles over the years. He has played guitar since age eleven and currently plays for First Baptist Church of Long Beach. Sharp’s background with acoustics while working for the Navy allowed him to develop a passion for sound mixing, and he has produced albums for the FBC band and a Long Beach High School choir program quartet.
Sharp has also been a photographer since high school and has used his photography skills to create album covers and co-author a coffee table book highlighting the beauty of the Mississippi Coast.
“I tend to be a guy who gets interested in a lot of things and throws myself into them,” he said. “I love the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and showing things that are great about it in a coffee table book is pretty fun.”
Sharp has also held several community leadership roles, including serving on the school board for five years and helping out on political campaigns.
“I believe it is my civic duty,” he said. “I love to do projects that have altruistic needs.”
Sharp graduated from Gulfport East High School in 1974, where he met his wife, Donna Sinclair. She was his first date in high school, and they have been together since they were teenagers.
“I am most blessed by my wife, she is incredibly important to me, and she is, in her own right, an incredible talent,” Sharp said. “She has been my inspiration throughout my life and is a special part of everything I do.”
Question: What is your favorite thing about Long Beach?
Sharp: “It’s a village style community; you get to know everyone. The school district has always been a blue ribbon; they demonstrate nothing but premiere desires for our children. It’s really nicely placed along the Gulf Coast; and, if I want to go to Ocean Springs or New Orleans for dinner with friends or to stay the weekend, I can do that.”
Question: What is your favorite restaurant in Long Beach?
Sharp: “I enjoy the restaurants we have; we don’t have a bad one. I enjoy Harbor View and Steve’s, and I think the Long Beach Deli is a hidden gem. I’m proud of the fact we have such good chefs in town.
Question: What are some of your favorite books and TV shows?
Sharp: “I’m an adventurer, I’m also a mystery person. My wife and I like watching the Hallmark channel mysteries and dramas, and I’m a fan of NCIS. I like a program called The Chosen, which runs as a crowd-shared, faith-based program.”
Question: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Sharp: “I have on my bucket list to go to the Galapagos Islands off South America to photograph some of the wildlife there. My wife and I have been to France, Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy and have done the Middle East twice. A trip to Petra, Jordan is incredible.”
Question: What would you do if you won the lottery?
Sharp: “Probably give it to my daughter. One million dollars doesn’t mean a lot. I’ll put it in the bank or in a trust and let it provide some income and be inherited by my daughter.”